: Courtesy of Wanderlust Tours

Sip and Relax with a Guided Boat Trip

Less hassle, more summertime bliss: Sit back and enjoy the ride on Oregon's top waterways.
May 29, 2017 (Updated January 26, 2024)

There’s nothing like a whitewater rafting or jet boat trip to leave you breathless, soaked to the bone and pumped full of adrenaline. Then there’s the kind of boat trip that takes it down a notch — from wild to mild, but every bit just as sensational.

Here are a handful of guided boat trips to check out this summer that will let you delight in Oregon’s pristine waterways at a soothing pace, perhaps with a frosty beverage in hand as long as you’re not driving. That’s another excellent reason to check out a guided boat trip, so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

 Whenever you’re on the water, wear a properly fitted life jacket — it’s required for ages 13 and under and highly recommended for others regardless of age. It may just save your life if you end up splashing into the water, especially in cold water temperatures. Guides and charters include a life jacket with your activity. If you’re on your own, many lake areas have free life jacket kiosks if you don’t have your own.

people in boat holding drinks
Note: Guests wear hip-belt PFDs. Courtesy of Paddle Pub

Guided Floats on the Rogue River

The Paddled Pub, a tour company based in Grants Pass, takes you 7 miles down the scenic Rogue River on a 20-foot custom raft designed for relaxation. Hop in, kick back and soak up the views during the beautiful 2-hour float while a guide steers from the back. Before boarding, the trip meets at Weekend Beer Co. in Grants Pass, where each guest gets three 16-ounce beers to-go for the float. Non-alcoholic beverages are provided, and guests are encouraged to pack their own picnic with takeout orders from the Weekend Beer Co. food carts or other local restaurants. Trips run daily May through September. A discounted rate is available for designated drivers.

For something more immersive, Indigo Creek Outfitters runs a once-a-year “Raft and Wine” trip in July on the Rogue that includes three days on the river and two nights at wilderness lodges along the way. Each evening, guides take you through the tasting notes for tempranillos and chardonnays from The Urban Cork and Pallet Wine Company

yellow boat with people on river with bridge in background
Courtesy of BrewBarge

Paddle With Urban Views in Portland

They say it’s the most “Portland” thing you can do: Sip a craft beer while powering your own paddleboat along the Willamette River. The BrewBarge — brought to you by the same people behind Portland’s popular BrewCycle tour — is the epitome of active relaxation. You’ll get to enjoy your beverages at the high bar with 14 of your closest friends while keeping your feet busy, pedaling the boat at a speed of 5 miles per hour. You get 90 minutes to go as hard or as easy as you like, but expect to cruise under some of the city’s majestic downtown bridges. Keep it classy with a sunset tour with wine and cheese, or go more casual with beer and tunes. Either way, there is plenty of opportunity to take a rest and soak up the spectacular urban landscape all around.

Custom Wine Tasting on the Willamette

Captain Scott Heesacker of NW Jet Boat Charter has spent the better part of his life navigating boats around Oregon rivers, and as such, he knows the shallow, upper reaches of the Willamette River better than many. Join him for a four-hour jet-boat tour upriver from Newberg to Wheatland Ferry on a private, custom wine-tasting adventure that cruises past the farmlands in the heart of Oregon wine country. He’ll pair food with your favorite styles of wine before the trip, then drop anchor near a deserted island midstream, allowing your party of up to six people to enjoy a picnic in nature’s best tasting room.  

beer cans in river
Courtesy of Wanderlust Tours

Canoes and Brews in Central Oregon

Maybe a canoe is more your style? Wanderlust Tours’ Brews & Views Canoe Tour lets you explore some of the best spots on the Cascade Lakes, some of which are accessible only by paddling into the fingers, coves, bays and wetlands. Spend two hours paddling around on Paulina, Elk, Sparks or Hosmer lakes, and stop for a refreshing dip if that’s your calling. Your naturalist guide will bring a cooler of craft beers with offerings from four Central Oregon breweries like Boneyard Beer and Worthy Brewing, each a stop along the ever-expanding Bend Ale Trail.

About The

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson is a longtime journalist and travel writer/editor who is now Travel Oregon’s Content & Community Manager, helping to align content for visitors via social media, print and web. She’s called Oregon home for 25 years and loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.